Thursday, December 4, 2014

another lesson: steady + soften

We were able to sneak in a lesson with Dan on Sunday. The weather was perfect, and the ring was in pretty decent shape, all things considered. No pics from the ride, unfortunately, but it was productive. 


Izzy nonchalantly teases the boys. note Wick, the chestnut whose face is over the green sign, as he makes an appearance later :)

Isabel continues to improve on the flat - and Dan noted that our contact was much steadier (still not *actually* steady, but we're working on it). 

Some takeaways for flat work:
  • keep my legs ON and steady (not lots of little nudges) until I get the right response, then soften.
  • use circle diameter for engagement and pace, rather than rein - I should always feel like I can add leg. If the horse is strong or fast, make the circle smaller while keeping the leg ON.
  • SOFTEN my aids when Isabel steadies into the contact. My timing here is shit. 
  • transition upward ONLY when the current gait is steady and balanced. Be patient - the better quality the gait, the better the transition will be, and the better the next gait will be too. 
  • maintain contact through transitions (esp outside rein) - don't throw it away (or throw the horse into the gait).



Our jumping exercise was a modified version of what Dan did during a training ride earlier in the morning. A single vertical was set on the A-C line at X, and we circled around and around and around. He added a placing pole for our benefit  and kept the fence small (we certainly did *not* reach his earlier height of 3'3" ... hahaha nope). 

The objective here: focus on quality of canter (noticing a theme here? it was allll about getting quality gaits, period). He wanted me to concentrate on pace and contact by sitting up and leg ON - and allow the distance to find us. Repetition was the name of the game. 

It was an interesting exercise, and had me focusing so much more on the canter than I usually do. This is definitely something I'll do again on my own.  


Wick getting schooled on his left lead

The other rider in the lesson was my friend who will be coming to OF lessons with me. She recently switched leases to a different OTTB, Wick. This horse is decidedly more green than Special, but has a really wonderful brain and a confident work ethic. Green as grass tho. 

Wick's left lead is also notoriously elusive - to the point where Dan got on to investigate. He managed to get the lead a few times, but told my friend not to worry about it for this lesson. He just had her solidify her technique for asking for canter: sit UP - shoulders over (or even behind) hips - and *solid* contact on the outside rein through the transition.

In any case, it was pretty neat watching him ride. He had to really exaggerate his aids and body position to get through to the horse - but it worked! 



The ring was definitely FULL on Sunday tho. There were two trainers teaching, besides Dan. Plus boarders working their horses. Fortunately we lucked out with only 3 other horses in the ring during our lesson. The above pic was taken not very much later tho.

That's 7 horses. Two separate lessons (going in different directions, natch), two boarders schooling (#5 & 6) and another boarder long-lining (#3). Busy busy busy. Especially when you consider the dubious steering skills of lesson kids... Sheesh what a zoo... 

19 comments:

  1. I am notorious for "nudging" the whole time, too!

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    1. lol it's such a hard habit to kick! (lol i gots jokes)... but seriously this trainer had to actually tell me 'no pony-club kicks' last time... how embarrassing!

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  2. Love the numbered picture and I totally know wht you mean, timing is everything and I suck at timiing too

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  3. I'm also a naughty nudger, have poor timing issues, throw away my outside contact for Funsies (not really) & probably generally annoy the shiz out of my horses with my inconsistencies. How they don't periodically dump me on my @$$ is a testament to their kindness

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    1. lol i thank my horse nearly every ride for putting up with me :)

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  4. The timing and the consistent outside rein for me is huge...sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't. But, like you were saying it'll get there! :)

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    1. one day i hope! (then i'll probably say 'aha i got it!' and promptly let it go again lol)

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  5. Timing it right is soooo harrrrd!

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  6. just looking at that much arena traffic gives me anxiety.

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    1. yea it gets pretty bad sometimes - esp when you consider that the far right end is pretty much unusable slippery slop at this point :(

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  7. Hmm those takeaway points sound very familiar to me!

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    1. lol yep! nothing exactly ground breaking here -- just gotta keep on chippin away :)

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  8. So many people in the ring... and someone lunging?! Aye! lol

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  9. I'm definitely going to be stealing that jumping exercise! 7 in an arena at one time? No thank you!! I'm a lone rider for sure and that would stress me out so much! Haha

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    1. ooh do it! it's a simple exercise - but when done correctly (ie the exact same canter around the circle again and again such that the jump comes up perfectly in stride) it's pretty effective! and yea, 7 in the arena is a stretch lol

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